Your Favorite Film Comedians on Travalanche

Sadly, neither Hank Mann, Chester Conklin or James Finlayson made the list, but some picture, eh?
Sadly, neither Hank Mann, Chester Conklin nor James Finlayson made the list, but some picture, eh?

As part of my periodic stock taking, I did a little assessment this morning of the popularity of the various comedians I write about on Travalanche. I am particularly interested (floored, really) on the low standings of one of them (he’s at the bottom) and have been trying to suss out some way to address it.

Anyway here are the rankings: here are the film comedians YOU like to read about, in order of popularity (click on the links to read about the comedians). I reiterate, these are based on the statistics of who reads what on Travalanche:

1. Charlie Chaplin: the most popular by far; the number of readers is into 5 figures

2. Marx Brothers: quite a ways back, but not too shabby — they’re about 60% as popular as Chaplin

3. Laurel and Hardy: likewise, and not surprising — they’re about 40% as popular here as Chaplin

4. Our Gang/ Little Rascals: the standings on this one improved dramatically after my post about Alfalfa a couple of days ago; they’re a third as popular as Chaplin

5. The Three Stooges: they are just a hair behind Our Gang; until a few days ago they would have been fourth in the rankings

6: Burns and Allen: a third as popular as Chaplin; their standings no doubt enhanced by their added popularity as radio and tv stars.

7. Buster Keaton: comedy and film buffs are always shocked by this but not me. On Travalanche, Keaton is one-fifth as popular as Chaplin. I think if you did a Q Factor poll, this would prove out similarly amongst the general population. Only educated people know who he is nowadays, and educated people are in the minority

8. W.C. Fields: he’s right behind Keaton, and this one does surprise me; I’d expect Fields to be closer to the top

9: Eddie Cantor: right behind Fields — all three (Keaton, Fields and Cantor) are each about 20% as popular as Chaplin on Travalanche

10: Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean): the highest standing on Travalanche of a latter-day film comedian (with the exception of a couple of others I’ll talk about separately below). His post is also at about 20% popularity of Chaplin’s.

11. Mae West: Like Fields, her lower standing surprises me

12. Jimmy Durante

13. Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle” — part of his standing can of course be accounted for by the scandal

14. Jackie Gleason: Gleason’s popularity on the site is about 10% of Chaplin’s

The posts above are all into four figure numbers of readership. The ones below are in the hundreds: 

15: Joe Cook: kind of a surprise that this post ranks at all; the only reason I can think of is that there is probably next to nothing on Joe Cook elsewhere on the internet

16. Ed Wynn

17. Jack Benny

18. Bob Hope 

19. Danny Kaye & Jerry Lewis (tied)

20. Red Skelton

21. Abbott and Costello

22. Edgar Bergen

23. Joe E. Brown

24. Wheeler and Woolsey

25. Thelma Todd — was pleased to see that she made the list, and I of course think she is great, but the number is probably greater than it might have been if she did not die under mysterious circumstances

26. Harold Lloyd — OK. This is the one I want to talk about some. Lloyd barely moves the needle. To make this list, the post has to top over 250 readers. Lloyd barely squeaked in, making him 1/40 as popular as Chaplin here. The phenomenon is interesting to me because comedy buffs put Chaplin, Keaton and Lloyd in a “Big Three”, and in the 1920s, Lloyd was generally the top comedian in the country in terms of popularity. There are many factors involved, of course, including what else is out there on the internet. But what I keep coming back to is that there is also plenty else out there on Chaplin, and he’s doing best here by a huge margin. And I give all the posts the same amount of promotion. I have to conclude that Lloyd’s Q Factor amongst the general public is quite low, much lower that we who live in the “old movie cul de sac” are aware of. It’s something we should try to address, I think. Luckily, two years from now, we’ll start having lots of Lloyd centennials beginning with the introduction of his “glasses” character – – a perfect opportunity.

Other surprises: Some of the others (people I consider pretty important) who didn’t even chart include: Harry Langdon, Larry Semon, Mack Sennett, Hal Roach, Mabel Normand, and Charley Chase. And of course I’ve written about several hundred comedians here — but most are too obscure nowadays to garner more than a couple of hundred page views.

Final Note: Goldie Hawn, Arte Johnson (!), and Chevy Chase all ranked pretty high on the list, but their status is adulterated by other factors. The title to the Goldie Hawn post contains the phrase “go-go dancer” (apt to attract people looking for something else); and likewise the Arte Johnson post uses the phrase “Dirty Old Man”. And Chevy Chase is of course the name of a neighborhood in Maryland, which may skew the figures in terms of Google hits.


  1. I know this post is a few years old, but I’m pleasantly surprised to see Burns and Allen as high as #6! They’ve been one of my favorite acts since I got into classic comedy.


  2. Of course this is a TRAVALANCHE poll,isn’t it? That would explain the numbers.You say “only educated people” know Keaton.I would say”who knows Travalanche? Your self importance is mind boggling,along with your mindless assumptions.


    • 1. Sir, if you know who Buster Keaton is, you ARE, by definition, educated. Bravo for championing him. You will see my personal ranking here in a couple of days and in that list Keaton comes second only to Chaplin.
      2. This isn’t a poll. It’s a count of page views. It is a tally of who reads what. I have no interest in changing the results, or any reason to. As I’ve just said, Keaton is my personal #2 among silent film comedians.
      3. I’m not sure what prompts the ad hominem attack, but I’m sure you’re really a very nice person despite the angry outburst.
      4. How about those Yankees?


  3. I mean, HOW did they rank beneath Joe Cook and Eddie Cantor?! Nobody knows those guys these days. Do you think Cantor’s ranking had anything to do with his portrayal on Boardwalk Empire?


  4. I’m surprised Abbott and Costello didn’t rank higher. The others, Keaton and Lloyd, who ranked surprisingly low, are, as you say, more important to comedy and film buffs, but less known by the general public. Abbott and Costello would be, I would think, about as well known as the Marx Bros. I was also a little surprised by Bergen, Jerry Lewis and Red Skelton. I would have thought they’d rank a little higher as well. I guess I’ve been reading, watching and thinking about this stuff so long I am out of touch with what most people are actually aware of.


    • It’s hard to gauge — so many factors. I’m also a little surprised about A & C, for the same reason you cite. My main posts about them do have a negative tone, however, which I imagine hurt the “pass-along” rate among Abbott and Costello fans. I’ll be posting more about them in future…maybe it’ll go up. (oh yeah and you’d be SHOCKED to learn who’s been forgotten…whom young people have never HEARD of, including almost everyone on the list. When I talk to college kids or younger (and even older). Mae West? never heard of her!


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